★★★ – “Radcliffe’s bold performance is the only saving grace.”

Imperium is directed by Daniel Ragussis and stars Daniel Radcliffe, Toni Collette, Tracy Letts, Sam Tremmell, Chris Sullivan and Nestor Carbonell.

A young FBI agent, eager to prove himself in the field, goes undercover as a white supremacist.

Director Daniel Ragussis takes us deep into one of the most dangerous and controversial groups in history. Imperium is a dark and gritty drama that delivers one of Radcliffe’s best and most challenging performances yet. Though unfortunately, that’s where the good stuff ends.

The initial concept for this film is brilliant, however the writing feels bland, simple and never really allows the viewer to connect with the characters. The one redeeming quality would be Daniel Radcliffe’s leading performance as Nate. He propels into his portrayal comfortably within the first twenty minutes and skilfully reveals a new side to his acting ability. With such a story and set in a notoriously menacing underworld, he had to be able to deliver. Radcliffe has taken on many diverse projects since his Harry Potter years, further developing his career and ultimately improving his adroitness in this industry, and this adds to the portfolio.

It’s really unfortunate that a concept so great can be mistreated with a lack of knowledge or passion. Imperium is a good film, but don’t expect much else. There are some genuinely intense moments, but these are few and far between, and even in these circumstances the writing feels forced and abandoned. A lot of the FBI scenes are lacking in information, appearing as if the filmmakers had little time to research the realistic procedures that the FBI would perform.

Original music by Will Bates is pumping with energy throughout, adding to the tension with an atmosphere that aids the film entirely. There’s also a chance to delve into the emotional core with a few beautiful piano sections that further develop the character of Nate.

Toni Collette and the rest of the supporting cast are passable but nowhere near as notable as Radcliffe in his boldly strong portrayal. As aforementioned, this is mostly down to the writing and I must note again how disappointing it is to see such a compelling story be mishandled like this. In some ways it feels like John Hillcoat’s Triple 9, which suffered the same fate.

Verdict; Imperium sets out to thrill and entertain, and while Radcliffe’s enthusiastic performance is enjoyable, the rest is not.

Imperium – ★★★ (5/10)

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